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Kamaruzzaman was held in ’71 as Al-Badr

Tuesday, February 12, 2013Front Page

Kamaruzzaman was held in ’71 as Al-Badr
Says investigator testifying about genocide in Sherpur
Staff Correspondent

An investigator yesterday told the International Crimes Tribunal-2 that Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was listed as an arrested Al-Badr collaborator after independence in 1971.

Abdur Razzaque Khan, investigation officer of the case against the war crimes accused Jamaat assistant secretary general, said he had information that with the help of the Pakistani army, Kamaruzzaman led Razakars into the killing of at least 187 people in Sohagpur of Sherpur in 1971.

The three-member tribunal, led by Justice Obaidul Hassan with members Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Judge M Shahinur Islam, completed recording testimony of Razzaque before adjourning the proceeding until today.

The defence would cross-examine the investigation officer in the case against Kamaruzzaman today.

As many as 18 prosecution witnesses including Razzaque have testified in the case, while the defence have submitted a list of 1,357 witnesses.

On June 4 last year, the court framed seven charges of crimes against humanity against Kamaruzzaman.

During his three-hour testimony, Razzaque said the home ministry upon receiving a letter had supplied the investigation agency a list of collaborators arrested in Dhaka after the war.

“The Directorate of NSI [National Security Intelligence] Bangladesh prepared the list [of arrestees] on April 13, 1972,” said Razzaque, adding, “The heading of the list was ‘List of arrested persons as collaborators’.”

Name of Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, son of Insan Ali of Sherpur, was 287th on the list, said Razzaque, adding, “Kamaruzzaman was mentioned as an arrested collaborator.”

Razzaque said he seized, from the Library of Bangla Academy, a copy of Bangla daily Purbadesh December 31, 1971, issue in which the news “15 more collaborators were arrested including Deen Mohammad” was on the front page.

He also seized a Dainik Bangla issue of the same date with headlined “15 more collaborators arrested”. “Kamaruzzaman’s name was there [in arrested list],” he said.

He said he had examined the background and context of the Liberation War and analysed the daily Sangram and other newspapers during the pre-probe stage. It appeared that Kamaruzzaman, as the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha of Mymensingh district, was “directly involved” in the killings and genocide in Mymensingh and Sherpur, he added.

Investigation revealed that Kamaruzzaman was involved in Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat, when he was a student of class-X, said Razzaque.

Razzaque conducted an investigation into an act of genocide committed on July 25, 1971 at Sohagpur village under Nalitabari of Sherpur. The village was renamed Bidhaba Palli [widow’s village], he said.

“I learned during investigation that on that day, Razakars led by accused Muhammad Kamaruzzaman in connivance with the Pakistani army killed 187 men and children in Sohagpur,” he said.

There is a monument in the village mentioning names of 69 martyrs, he added.

A prosecution witness testified that 20 bull-cart drivers were shot dead after Abdul Alim’s cohorts from the Peace Committee and Razakar force detained them in June, 1971.

Abu Sayeed Joarder, a union parishad chairman from Akkelpur of Joypurhat and the 10th prosecution witness in the case against the former BNP lawmaker, said six people, who went to Alim to convince him to release the bull-cart drivers, never returned.

Sayeed, who was a student of class-VI in 1971, said Aser Ali alias Aber Ali Joarder, one of his paternal uncles, was a farmer and a bull-cart driver during the war.

Between June 26 and 30, 1971, Aser Ali and his son Mokhlesur Rahman left with their bull-cart to ferry some Hindus across the Indian border, said Sayeed, adding that his uncle returned home after half an hour as he was not feeling well.

Between 7:30pm and 8:00pm, they learned that accomplices of Abdul Alim, who was the “Peace Committee chairman and a Razakar commander of Joypurhat sub-division”, detained Mokhles and 19 other bull-cart drivers on his return journey at Beltoli.

People used to use bull carts to travel to and from the Indian border then.

“The detainees were taken before Peace Committee leader Abdul Alim at the Peace Committee office at the Gadigahr of Shaonlal Bazla at Joypurhat,” said Sayeed.

The next day there were rumours that the detainees would be released if Alim was provided Tk 500 for each of them, he said, adding that six people including Mokhles’ father went to Alim with the money.

“I had seen them going [to Alim] and heard them uttering the name of Abdul Alim,” he added.

Sayeed said neither the 20 detainees nor the six who went to bring them home ever returned.

They later heard that the detainees and the six were shot dead near Khanjanpur Khuthibari and their bodies were dumped in the nearby river, Sayeed said.

Defence counsel Ahsanul Haq Hena cross-examined Sayeed before the tribunal adjourned the proceeding until today, when he is set to face further cross-examination.

Alim, a former minister of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman’s cabinet, was indicted with 17 specific charges of crimes against humanity that include genocide, murder of civilians, and burying people alive during the Liberation War.

The prosecution yesterday completed cross-examination of the first defence witness in the war crimes case against former Jamaat ameer Ghulam Azam at the International Crimes Tribunal-1.

Prosecutor Syed Haidar Ali suggested that witness Brig Gen (dismissed) Abdullahil Aman Azmi’s father Ghulam Azam was a self-proclaimed criminal of crimes against humanity.

“It is not true,” Azmi said.

In reply to a question, Azmi claimed that it was not true that his father even after independence had tried to restore East Pakistan and worked against independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh.

Haidar Ali made a suggestion that Azmi concealed before the tribunal his father’s involvement in crimes against humanity despite knowing the truth.

“It is not true,” Azmi repeated.

The prosecutor suggested that Azmi was declared persona non grata at the cantonment.

The defence witness denied.

Earlier, the prosecutor cross-examined the defence witness over different documents submitted by him before the tirubnal.

The proceeding of the case was adjourned until February 13. On that day the defence will produce their second witness.

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